DALLAS – July 14, 2015 – Muslim Legal Fund of America joined more than 40 organizations in a July 10 letter to officials in the Department of Homeland Security to express concerns about and recommend against moving forward with the H.R 2899, Countering Violent Extremism Act of 2015, which the coalition claims will institutionalize racial and religious profiling.
A Growing Number of Groups Says CVE Act Violates Civil Liberties, Targets Muslims
The coalition, led by Brennan Center for Justice, sent the letter to Michael McCaul, House Committee Chairman on Homeland security, and Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson. If passed, the CVE Act will allocate $10 million annually to establish an office for the Countering Violent Extremism within the Department of Homeland Security.
The coalition said there is no evidence showing CVE programs reduce terrorism. Instead, this program will potentially mischaracterize common behaviors associated with religious practices and political activism as primary risk factors for identifying potential terrorists.
In their letter, the coalition argued such approaches violate constitutional liberties, stating that “[t]argeting individuals for increased scrutiny or other intervention on anything other than suspicion of wrongdoing is impermissible under the U.S. Constitution, and antithetical to American values.” See:
MLFA Executive Director Khalil Meek said CVE programs are another threat to Muslim’s civil liberties in America.
“Using religious beliefs and political views as a precursor to preemptive prosecution will increase the already existing chilling effect caused by anti-Muslim bias in federal law enforcement,” Meek said. “No one is arguing against the idea of stopping violent acts, but this program seems to rely on ill-informed biases instead of data and facts.”
The coalition asserts that with no solid criteria to evaluate the success of the proposed CVE office, there is a greater likelihood the program will cause more harm than good. The Act primarily targets the American Muslim community with no specific criteria to identify potential terrorist.
To speak out against this legislation, Meek encourages supporters to visit the ADC “Reject the CVE Act! Action page.
Muslim Legal Fund of America is a national charity that funds legal work and programs to defend Muslims against injustice in American courtrooms, prisons, and communities. Established in 2001, MLFA has defended freedom of speech, association, religion, the right to a fair trial, and other constitutional rights. To learn more about MLFA, visit their website at www.mlfa.org.
Note: Additional groups have signed onto the statement since July 10, 2015. See updated letter below.